Ahead of the coronavirus task force briefing Friday, President Trump gave an Easter message, urging Americans to “focus on prayer, reflection, and growing in our personal relationship with God” during “this sacred time” as most churches hold services online, and asked pastor Bishop Harry Jackson to pray.
“On this Good Friday, Christians from all around the world remember the suffering and death upon the cross of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Trump said at the briefing at the White House. “At Easter Sunday, we will celebrate His glorious resurrection.”
Trump said as people won’t be able to “gather together with one another as we normally would on Easter,” they can “use this sacred time to focus on prayer, reflection, and growing in our personal relationship with God. So important.”
He continued, “I ask all Americans to pray that God will heal our nation; to bring comfort to those who are grieving; to give strength to the doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers; to restore health to the sick; and to renew the hope in every person who is suffering. Our nation will come through like never before.”
Trump assured that the U.S. death toll from the new coronavirus pandemic will be “substantially less” than the last week’s projection of 100,000.
As of early Saturday, there were more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world with 103,257 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the United States, the case count was 501,615 with 18,777 deaths.
The president acknowledged that “many families” have prayed “for me and for my family.” He said, “your prayers are felt, and I am forever grateful.”
Trump thanked “our great Vice President (Mike Pence) and his wonderful wife, who we all know very well, Karen, for the incredible job they do and for their service not only to the country but for their service to God.”
Trump quoted Prophet Isaiah, “Darkness covers the Earth…but the Lord rises upon you, and His glory appears over you…For the Lord will be your everlasting light.”
As America “battles the invisible enemy,” he continued, “we reaffirm that Americans believe in the power of prayer. We give thanks for the majesty of creation and for the gift of eternal life. And we place our trust in the hands of Almighty God.”
Also on Friday, the evangelical group Christians United for Israel thanked Trump for his leadership.
“We are grateful to President @realDonaldTrump for his leadership during this crisis and join him in rejoicing during this Easter weekend and praying for our country and leaders as well as doctors, nurses, first responses, and the many people affected by this virus,” the group wrote on Instagram. “We are believing God for healing and restoration for our country.”
In his prayer that followed Trump’s Easter message at the White House, Bishop Jackson, senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, thanked the President for including the churches in the relief efforts. “Many churches would’ve had to close down … had it not been for your insightful leadership,” he said.
“Lord, let the death angel pass over. Let there be a mitigation of this plague, this disease. Let medical science come forth,” Jackson continued. “Lord, let us come out with a thriving economy. That silver and gold spoken of in that passage, let it be our portion.”
He also prayed that “the spirit of division” in the nation will be broken. “Lord, let e pluribus unum be a reality in us. Let there be a uniting of America. Heal the divide between race, class, and gender.”
At the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Trump said he plans to attend the online Easter Sunday service hosted by pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas, Texas.
“We have Easter Sunday, and I’m going to be watching pastor Robert Jeffress, who’s been a great guy," Trump said. "And I’m going to be watching on a laptop. Now a laptop is not the same as being in his church or being in another church. It’s not."
Both Jackson and Jeffress are members of the president's Evangelical Advisory Board.